This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
Think gasoline prices or Manhattan apartment prices have soared in recent years? That escalation is nothing compared to the price of becoming a citizen of America, for which the naturalization and fingerprinting fee has climbed to $675 from the $95 it cost in 1998. That is a 610% escalation over 10 years. The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights highlighted the problem in a report released earlier this month, “Priced Out,” which we read about in Albor Ruiz’s column in the Daily News.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a branch of the Department of Homeland Security, will waive the fee for those who can’t afford it. But the words of Emma Lazarus etched at the Statue of Liberty are “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” It doesn’t say, “give me your check for $675 made out to the United States Treasury.”
America’s success depends on our being a country that welcomes immigrants with open arms. We need their skills and their contributions to our culture and to our economic growth. A more moderate fee would send a friendlier message to immigrants considering becoming citizens of America. They will repay the price to America in other ways for years to come.